Interview with Volker Bühren

He is not only one of the most renowned trauma surgeon worldwide, but also one of the OTC Foundation’s founding fathers. Last year, Volker Bühren wore his white coat for the very last time. We asked him what this felt like and talked to him about his involvement with the OTCF.

You retired a few months ago. How have you been filling your everyday life since?

Volker Bühren: During my professional life, the schedule was regularly overbooked. Now, it is just occupied, which still brings about a full employment in the end. Some of the professional activities, such as consultations and assessments, are being continued. Added to this were family responsibilities that have never been brought to me in the past. For instance, I look after my two granddaughters, who are in kindergarten age, two to three times a week. Last but not least, I can treat myself to a personal freedom for sports activities.


How hard has it been for you to take off the white coat for the last time, knowing you will never be back at the operating table?

Of course, there is a hint of melancholy when one no longer pursues a primary competence that has been practiced for decades, and accordingly can no longer derive any satisfaction therefrom. It is reasonable, however, that as a surgeon, sooner or later one has to stop operating. In this profession, you do not get better with age. The physically demanding work becomes harder and ultimately, after more than 40 years of surgery, you have already seen everything.


What are your plans for the coming years?

After a period of childhood and education, the period of professional practice followed. There is now a third phase of life which one has to shape and which may still include many good years. This is a good phase, above all because onerous dependencies and obligations have often been eliminated. A free space for interests and occupations can be formed according to one’s own taste.


What does the OTC Honorary Award, which you have been awarded in Amsterdam last year, mean to you?

Personally, I have a rather Hanseatic attitude that does not depend on medals and decorations. Nevertheless, the OTC Honorary Award means a lot to me because it represents the recognition for many years of scientific work and volunteer endeavors for the concerns of traumatology.


How long have you been a member of OTC or AIOD Germany?

I have been a member of AIOD Germany for more than 25 years and I am a founding member of the OTC Foundation, which means I am a part of it since 2007.


In which form(s) are you involved in the OTC Foundation?

From the very beginning and continuously I have been involved in the governing bodies of the OTC Foundation. Currently, I am a member of the Board of Trustees. In AIOD Germany, I was president and am nowadays still part of education courses, where I act as a speaker. At the moment, I am spokesman for the Senate of AIOD Germany, which is made up of former presidents and award winners.


What do you see as the greatest benefits of the OTC Foundation?

The greatest benefit is the common platform for trauma surgeons from all over the world. In addition to the professional exchange, the highest values an international community like the OTC Foundation can offer are the deep communication, the possibility of getting to know one another personally and the resulting friendships.


In your opinion, what will be the biggest changes in osteosynthesis research and education over the next few years?

The major challenges are the fracture treating of old people with exorbitantly increasing numbers of cases worldwide and the quality of care to be guaranteed anyway or for that very reason. Digitization will also occupy and modify work in the operating room, with an accurate documentation of all surgical steps and outcomes. Today, the focus is placed on implants and instruments. This will most probably be replaced by an approach based on processes and results.